St Cross alumna Martyna Syposz (DPhil Zoology, 2017) has published a paper in the Journal of Avian Biology. As part of her DPhil thesis, Martyna undertook an experiment looking at the orientation of fledgling Manx shearwaters. Martyna and her colleagues attached small LEDs to the birds' backs so they could observe them when they were leaving their colonies, and see which direction they went in - a part Martyna particularly enjoyed as she could witness the special moment of the young birds' first flights.
By attaching small boxes with magnets to the birds' heads, and using small glass beads as a control, they could see if their orientation was disturbed by magnets. Their research could not disentangle the effect of magnets, but instead found that they directed their maiden flights towards the sea and away from the land, and that wind direction seemed to play an important role in how the birds oriented themselves.
You can read the paper here.
Images: Annette Fayet
Header Image: Amy Lewis